Tuesday, 26 March 2013

REVIEW - POST TENEBRAS LUX


The idea, I think, is that you're supposed to engage with it, not follow it. There's no discernible connecting thread to the disparate scenarios scattered through Post Tenebras Lux; I don't doubt that one exists, but it is buried so deep inside the mind of Carlos Reygadas that one would have to be his shrink to be able to locate, never mind decipher it. Structurally, one might recall David Lynch's Inland Empire - a film similarly baffling and fragmented, but also teasingly cohesive in ways which seem just out of our grasp. Lynch intrigues and entertains us whilst provoking thought. Reygadas bores us whilst operating on an entirely different wavelength. His resistance to impart to us some suggestion regarding what he is aiming to achieve renders his film, as technically impressive and unerring in its naturalistic tone as it is, drab and inert. I have only so much tolerance for picturesque cinematography (attractive in its unattractiveness), vivid sound design and mildly enchanting atmosphere when the content is so quixotic. Reygadas has assembled his film as a moodboard, a collection of thoughts and ideas, cut up and stirred together, complete with sporadically bevelled framing (enhancing the sensation of closeness palpable in the dense soundscape and lugubrious visual palette) and moments of surrealism, which are among the most successful in the film, but still fail to establish any substantial connection with the viewer. He seems content with the fact that all this is likely to only prompt stronger claims that he is no more than an artsy-fartsy wannabe-auteur - a shame, since he is of considerable talent. For me, the failure lies most in the contradiction at the heart of Post Tenebras Lux: I saw all the darkness, and not a hint of light.